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Catholic Church's 'grave fears' over Immigration Bill's housing implications

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Catholic Church's 'grave fears' over Immigration Bill's housing implications

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Regulation

More than 180,000 migrants 'living in UK illegally' More than 180,000 migrants 'living in UK illegally'

The Catholic Church has "grave fears" that the Immigration Bill could lead to vulnerable people being unable to access housing and healthcare.

The bill, which is due to come before the House of Commons again tomorrow, proposes to restrict migrants’ access to free NHS services and will require landlords to conduct checks on tenants’ immigration status.

Bishop Patrick Lynch, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark and chair of the Office of Migration Policy, said: “We have grave fears that these proposals will deter vulnerable individuals from accessing vital healthcare services. We are especially concerned that the prospect of charging, may mean that pregnant women fail to seek medical assistance throughout their pregnancy and attempt to cope alone, potentially risking the health of both mother and child. It is also deeply worrying that children of migrants have not been exempted from these plans”

“Similarly, it is vital that victims of human trafficking, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse are not denied medical treatment as a result of misidentification, delays in identification or because they feel discouraged to seek assistance. Victims of these horrific abuses are often reluctant to seek help in the first place and it is therefore essential that robust safeguards are in place.”

Helen O’Brien, chief executive of Caritas Social Action Network, added: “We are anxious to ensure that vulnerable individuals are not put at risk of harm as a result of their legal status.

“We fear that the requirement for landlords to conduct checks on a potential tenant’s immigration status may discourage owners from renting to migrants and increase homelessness levels.

“We are also keen to ensure that strong protections are in place for children of migrants, pregnant women and victims of trafficking and domestic abuse needing to access essential healthcare services.”

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